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Doctors: Now is the time to get the flu shot to prepare for the upcoming season

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:41 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Flu season officially begins in October, but doctors are saying now is the time to start getting flu shots.

Doctors are expecting a higher number of flu cases this year.

Last year, the flu season was virtually a no show because of all the COVID-19 mitigation strategies such as, masking and social distancing.

“We’re at risk of potentially having a significant uptick in flu activity, so if we don’t have the masks and we don’t distance and do all of those things as frequently, we will probably see a good bit of person to person transmission of influenza,” said Dr. Rodney Young, regional chair of family and community medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

Doctors explain people do not have the needed immunity to the flu this year.

“The usual amount of flu even though mildly symptomatic just didn’t happen, so it might be that the natural immunity really is not there this year to the degree that it was in previous year,” said Dr. Richard Jordan, regional dean, TTUHSC School of Medicine.

Dr. Jordan also mentions another concern they have is the fact we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a shortage of nurses, we’ve got holds in the ER for hospitalizations and we’ve got patients who are kept in the outer hospitals in the Panhandle that really should be admitted here, so if we have a even greater flood of patients it’s a great concern,” said Dr. Jordan.

Doctors say now is the time to get the flu shot to make sure you are prepared for this upcoming season.

Dr. Jordan also urges those who are over the age of 65 to make sure they get the shot along with those who are pregnant.

He said it is hard for a woman to overcome the fear of putting something in their body that may harm their baby, however he says the flu shot is good for the baby.

“It will stimulate antibody production and those antibodies get transferred across the placenta to the baby and so, it will give some protection to the baby and then if the mom gets the flu shot, she won’t get the flu most likely and she won’t transmit it to her baby,” said Dr. Jordan.

One big question doctors are seeing is can you get the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot?

They say you can go ahead and get both and the data shows both shots are quite compatible to each other, so you can even get them at the same time.

Dr. Young says it is normal with any vaccine for there to be a risk of having an immune response that may make you feel a little unwell for a day or two and some people do not want to risk getting both shots at the same time and says for those people it is perfectly fine to separate those shots by a week or so.

He also mentions COVID-19 boosters and what that means for the flu shot.

“Depending on what happens in terms of the implementation of the president’s recommendations about booster vaccines in terms of the approval from the FDA and the CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practice, we expect that we will likely have a lot of folks who will become eligible in the near future, so that would argue that now is a great time to go ahead and get your flu vaccine because you can get that on board and have that in place to protect you before you become eligible for that booster vaccine of COVID, which we’re expecting to be in the next few weeks,” said Dr. Young.

Doctors say you can do the same things that help protect you against COVID-19 to help protect you against the flu and that is becoming immunized, wearing a mask, social distancing and washing your hands frequently.

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